Poverty Forum

The Poverty Forum Executive Summary

With the current debate around the economic recovery and stimulus package, a deepening recession, increasing numbers of families in trouble; this year presents an unprecedented opportunity to make poverty reduction a serious national policy priority.

Reverend Jim Wallis and former speechwriter Mike Gerson convened a select group of Christian leaders from across the political and ideological spectrum to facilitate a constructive dialogue about domestic poverty issues. The common ground solutions resulting from this deliberate dialogue will be shared both in the public arena and with the next Administration and Congress.

While spanning the ideological spectrum these leaders share core biblical values surrounding God’s concern for the poor and the biblical imperative to address poverty. Each policy expert worked in teams with someone of a divergent political perspective to identify practical, concrete common ground policy recommendations in their given area. These proposals were then discussed and vetted by the broader group. The policy solutions that result from the Poverty Forum and subsequent meetings will enable us to conduct a deeper policy analysis and identify common ground solutions that we believe could be passed into law by the new Congress and Administration.

The Forum consists of 18 leaders with expertise in poverty initiatives and poverty policy reform, representing government, community, faith-based, and grassroots organizations. Participants included:

  • Co-Chair: Jim Wallis, President and CEO, Sojourners
  • Co-Chair: Mike Gerson, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
  • Organizer: Adam Taylor, Senior Political Director, President
  • Organizer: Mark Rodgers, Principal, The Clapham Group

Family Policy

  • John Cusey, Teacher - Grace Brethren High School, Simi Valley, CA.
  • Kathy Edin, Professor at the Kennedy School of Government

Health Care

  • Kathy Saile, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
  • Jim Capretta, Fellow in the Economics and Ethics Program of the Ethics and Public Policy Center


  • Dr. Robert Franklin, President, Morehouse College.
  • Terrell Halaska, Former Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs, U.S. Dept. of Education

Asset Building

  • Mary Nelson, Founder, Bethel New Life
  • Randy Brandt, U.S. Department of State

Strengthening Civil Society

  • Melissa Rogers, Director of the Wake Forest University School of Divinity Center for Religion and Public Affairs
  • Stanley Carlson-Thies, Director of Social Policy Studies, Center for Public Justice

"Making Work Work"

  • Dr. Ron Sider , Evangelicals for Social Action
  • Chuck Donovan, Executive Vice President, Family Research Council

Community Factors (i.e. Crime and Re-Entry)

  • Angela Blackwell, Executive Director of Policy Link
  • Brent Orrell, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and External Relations at the Administration for Children and Family Services


Make your voice heard.


Acces information on poverty policy & other resources

The Poverty Forum is made up of 8 teams who came up with 25 policy proposals addressing domestic poverty. Brief summaries, complete white paper policy proposals, and a press kit can be found on our Resource page.

Go to Resources
Listen to the Press Conference